SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — In the hardest hit San Francisco Bay Area county by the coronavirus — Santa Clara — 75 percentage of the 28 local fatalities from the virus have been among elderly men — a staggering number.

County officials have launched an unique online dashboard to give residents of the county a quick glance at the number of cases, gender of the victim, deaths and age groups the most vulnerable.

It also gives a graphical look at the surge over the last week. Santa Clara has had a Bay Area high of 848 residents test positive since the Silicon Valley reported the first local case in January. There were 202 new cases reported Monday — a surge accredited by county health officials to some delays in reporting cases and additional testing sites.

The county has also followed a national trend. While those 51 years old and older comprise just over 40 percent of the positive test results, that age group also accounts for nearly 95 percent of the county’s deaths.

And while men are barely outpacing women in positive tests — 53 percent to 46 percent — elderly males have accounted for a stunning 75 percent of the fatalities.

A similar pattern has emerged across the globe. Researchers say the gender imbalance shouldn’t really be a surprise: During previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS — cousins to COVID-19 — scientists noticed men seemed more susceptible than women.

This time around, slightly more than half the COVID-19 deaths in China were among men. Other parts of Asia saw similar numbers. Then Europe, too, spotted what Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, labeled a concerning trend.

In Italy, where men so far make up 58% of infections, male deaths are outpacing female deaths and the increased risk starts at age 50, according to a report from Italy’s COVID-19 surveillance group.

The U.S. CDC hasn’t yet released nationwide details. But one report about the first nearly 200 British patients admitted to critical care found about two-thirds were male.

One suspect: Globally, men are more likely to have smoked more heavily and for longer periods than women. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control is urging research into smoking’s connection to COVID-19.

Hormones may play a role, too. In 2017, University of Iowa researchers infected mice with SARS and, just like had happened in people, males were more likely to die. Estrogen seemed protective — when their ovaries were removed, deaths among female mice jumped, the team reported in the Journal of Immunology.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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